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Choir & Organ is the leading independent magazine for all professionals and amateurs in the choral and organ worlds – whether you are an organist, choral director or singer, organ builder, keen listener, or work in publishing or the record industry, Choir & Organ is a must-read wherever you live and work.

Every two months our expert contributors bring you beautifully illustrated features on newly built and restored organs, insights into the lives and views of leading organists, choral directors and composers, profiles of pioneering and well-established choirs, and topical coverage of new research, festivals and exhibitions. In keeping with our commitment to music at the cutting edge, we commission a new work from a young composer in every issue, making the score freely available for download and performance.

Our international news and previews, with breaking stories, key awards and forthcoming premieres, combine with reviews of the latest CDs, DVDs and sheet music, and listings of recitals, festivals and courses, to keep you up to date with events and developments around the world.


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Latest News

Choral diversity at the Proms

19 April 2013

Diversity: the keynote for this year's Proms
Diversity: the keynote for this year's PromsRobert Viglasky/BBC

This year’s BBC Proms season kicks off on 12 July with a performance of Vaughan Williams’s A Sea Symphony with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under its new conductor, Sakari Oramo. Among other familiar choral classics are Verdi’s Four Sacred Pieces with the Orchestra and Chorus of the Academy of Santa Cecilia, Rome, under Sir Antonio Pappano (20 Jul); Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony (Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus/Jansons – 9 Aug); Bach’s Easter and Ascension Oratorios (Monteverdi Choir/English Baroque Soloists/Gardiner – 9 Aug); Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 (Choral), in the first ever free evening Prom with the Irish Youth Chamber Choir, and the National Youth Choir and Orchestra conducted by Vasily Petrenko (11 Aug);  and Marin Alsop – who this year becomes the first woman ever to conduct the Last Night – directs the Orchestra and Choir of the Age of Enlightenment in Brahms’s Requiem (17 Aug).

The season’s Polish music theme directs attention to Szymanowski’s Symphony No.3 ‘The Song of the Night’ with the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales joining forces with the BBC Symphony Chorus under Thomas Søndergård (18 Jul).

But there is choral innovation a-plenty in the season. Jeffrey Skidmore’s Ex Cathedra bring Stockhausen’s ‘Welt-Parlament’ from the opera, Mittwoch aus Licht for its London premiere (19 July). ‘Stockhausen always intended it to stand alone as a concert work as well as being a theatre piece,’ says Skidmore. ‘It’s an absolutely sensational piece of choral writing for 37 singers, who form a futuristic world parliament discussing the theme of love.’ Other innovations include the UK premiere of Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s The Moth Requiem – a dream-like incantation of the names of the dustier cousins of the sun-loving butterfly – scored for women’s voices, alto flute and three harps (BBC Singers/Kok, 12 Aug); the world premiere of German composer Charlotte Seither's Language of Leaving, based on the words of 17th-century poet Francesco de Lemene (BBC Singers/Pons, 28 Aug); and the London premiere of George Lloyd’s final work – Requiem – written in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales (Temple Church Choristers/BBC Singers/Hill, 3 Sep).

Peter Phillips and his Tallis Scholars will celebrate their 40th anniversary with a late-night Prom contrasting the music of John Taverner with Carlo Gesualdo, who died 400 years ago.       

www.bbc.co.uk/proms

Lindsay Thomson 

Organ takes a back seat at 2013 Proms

18 April 2013

Proms’ accent on melody and virtuosity: Richard Hills
Proms’ accent on melody and virtuosity: Richard Hills

Following last year’s Cameron Carpenter extravaganzas at the BBC Proms, this year’s programme, announced on 18 April, will afford only intermittent opportunities for the ‘Voice of Jupiter’, aka the Royal Albert Hall Grand Organ, to be heard during the season.

Klaus Sonnleitner, organist of St Florian, Linz, will perform Guilmant’s arrangement of the Sinfonia to Bach’s Cantata No.29, chorale preludes BWV 662, 667 and 668, and the Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543 as a prelude to the Vienna Philharmonic’s performance of Bruckner’s Symphony No.8, conducted by Lorin Maazel (6 Sep). Bruckner. Bruckner became organist of St Florian almost 160 years ago, and is buried underneath the organ.

French organist Thierry Escaich returns to the Proms as soloist in Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No.3 with the Orchestre de Paris, conducted by Paavo Järvi (1 Sep).

But the Proms have recognised the multiple talents of British organist Richard Hills who will present an August Bank Holiday ‘Light Organ Prom’ (26 Aug) including Coates’s March, Sound and Vision, his own Sullivan arrangement, Mikado Memories, Ireland’s Miniature Suite, Villanella, ‘Ace of Hearts’ from Billy Mayerl’s Four Aces Suite, Edward German’s Three Dances from Nell Gywn, ending his official programme with Fats Waller’s A Handful of Keys.

Equally at home in the classical and theatre organ genres, Hills trained under William Whitehead and David Sanger, holding organ scholarships at Exeter College, Oxford, Portsmouth Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. Currently organist at St Mary's, Bourne Street, London, his career in the theatre organ world has been equally prestigious: he was named ‘Organist of the Year’ by the American Theatre Organ Society in 2010, and recently issued an acclaimed CD of classical and theatre organ tracks performed on the dual-console organ of Southampton Guildhall. 


Lindsay Thomson

King's goes green

2 April 2013

The Choir of King's College, Cambridge, famous around the world in particular for its Christmas broadcasts, has announced that it is to ditch the iconic red cassock in favour of new green vestments. In a statement, director of music Stephen Cleobury confirmed the changes are related to new music commissions for 2013: ‘Every year the Choir performs a number of new commissions by some of the world's leading composers. The only trouble is that modern performance directions can be very specific. This year's Christmas broadcast composer has gone one step ahead of the pack and specified the colour of the clothes to be worn during performance. I'm not sure what the Dean will make of it.’

The surprise announcement from King’s was issued on April 1.

Graeme Kay

Colin Walsh Live on Radio 3

22 March 2013

Walsh will perform from Lincoln Cathedral in April
Walsh will perform from Lincoln Cathedral in April

BBC Radio 3 is to broadcast a live organ recital outside the Proms season, for the first time in more than a decade.

Colin Walsh will perform from Lincoln Cathedral in the network's prestigious Radio 3 Live in Performance strand, from 7.30 to 9pm on Monday 15 April.

Walsh, who is the Cathedral's organist emeritus, pursued a three-year course of study with Jean Langlais at St.Clotilde in Paris; this inspired him to specialise in French symphonic and modern music, in particular the works of Franck, Vierne and Langlais. All of these composers, along with Tournemire, Dupré, Duruflé and Messiaen will feature in the live recital.

Organ music has become something of a backwater on the BBC's classical music station - Walsh's recital is thought to be the first live relay in the main schedule since a programme associated with the opening of the new organ in Symphony Hall, Birmingham, over ten years ago. This followed an 'Organ Night' when Gillian Weir broadcast live from Stockholm and Olivier Latry from Truro Cathedral in a single evening. 

Booking details for Colin Walsh's Lincoln recital are at http://lincolncathedral.com/events/radio-3-concert/    

Lindsay Thomson

EIF choral programme favours tried-and-tested 

13 March 2013

Gergiev will conduct the Edinburgh Festival Chorus in an all-Prokofiev evening
Gergiev will conduct the Edinburgh Festival Chorus in an all-Prokofiev eveningChris Christodoulou/BBC

Christoph Rousset will showcase instruments preserved in Edinburgh’s St Cecilia’s Hall Museum
Christoph Rousset will showcase instruments preserved in Edinburgh’s St Cecilia’s Hall Museum

The Edinburgh International Festival has announced its programme for 2013. The roster of concerts for the 'official' festival takes a conservative approach to choral music. For opening night (9 Aug), the all-conquering Russian maestro Valery Gergiev conducts the Edinburgh Festival Chorus and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in an all-Prokofiev evening including the dramatic cantata Alexander Nevsky with the mezzo-soprano Yulia Matochkina.

The following evening (10 Aug) vocal group Synergy Voices will take part in a performance of Luciano Berio's Sinfonia for orchestra and eight amplified voices, with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ilan Volkov.

The National Youth Choir of Scotland performs Fauré’s Requiem (17 Aug) with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and soloist Sir Thomas Allen.

The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir pays a visit (29 Aug) with their conductor Daniel Reuss, performing Rachmaninov's All-Night Vigil, Arvo Pärt's Two Slavonic Psalms, Alfred Schnittke's Three Sacred Hymns, and three lush, Romantic works by Estonian composer Cyrillus Kreek. The festival concludes with a performance of Verdi's Requiem (31 Aug): Donald Runnicles conducts the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Festival Chorus, with soloists Erin Wall (soprano), Luciana D’Intino (mezzo), Aleksandrs Antonenko (tenor) and the Metropolitan Opera's formidable Alberich, Eric Owens (bass).

Of interest to keyboard fans will be two recitals in which Christoph Rousset showcases instruments preserved in Edinburgh’s St Cecilia’s Hall Museum. On Thursday 22 August, he plays music by Frescobaldi, Scarlatti and CPE Bach on three contrasting instruments: a superbly decorated polygonal virginal made by Alessandro Bertolotti in Verona in 1586; a single-keyboard harpsichord built around 1620 in Naples; and a beautifully painted double-keyboard harpsichord made in France by Luigi Baillon in 1755. The following afternoon, Rousset selects two instruments for a recital of Purcell, Louis Couperin, Rameau, Balbastre and Royer: as well as a single-keyboard harpsichord made in London by Thomas Barton in 1709, he performs on Pascal Taskin’s Parisian double-keyboard harpsichord from 1769, an instrument that has spawned countless copies and is widely admired as probably the world’s most famous harpsichord.

www.eif.co.uk

Graeme Kay


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